BRADFORD, England, March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Health researchers at the University of Bradford have welcomed the GBP500,000 donation announced by best-selling author Terry Pratchett today (Thursday 13 March 2008).

Mr Pratchett was diagnosed with a rare early-onset form of Alzheimer's disease in December last year. He will announce a pledge of around GBP494,000 at the Alzheimer's Research Trust annual conference.

Currently there are around 15,000 people in the UK with early-onset dementia, which strikes under the age of 65.

Professor Murna Downs, Head of the Bradford Dementia Group, said: "This is very welcome news. Evaluating approaches that help people live with dementia and maintain well-being is central to the work we do here. We applaud Mr Pratchett for his generosity and bravery for speaking out about his condition.

"Currently we are involved in a GBP1.2-million study investigating the value of reminiscence groups for people suffering with dementia. However, there's much more work to be done and help such as this donation to fund research is greatly appreciated."

The Bradford Dementia Group is based within the University of Bradford's School of Health Studies. Their research on reminiscence is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme and its emphasis is on quality of life.

Led by experts at Bangor University, and involving researchers in Manchester, Hull, London and Bradford, it builds on a ten-year development of the reminiscence approach by Pam Schweitzer, former creative director at the charity Age Exchange and a pilot study undertaken in Bangor, Bradford and London.

Evaluation of the approach found that people with dementia and their carers valued the project very highly. The pilot work found encouraging signs of reduced depression in carers and improvements in autobiographical memory in participants with dementia.

The current research is a ten-month large-scale trial investigating the impact of reminiscence groups on quality of life and psychological distress, and assessing its cost-effectiveness. It will look at around 600 families in eight centres across England and Wales.

The approach combines creative reminiscence with a person-centred approach to dementia. Photographs, recordings, music, objects and a wide range of activities are used to trigger and celebrate memories of past times and facilitate communication in the present.

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For more information contact Professor Murna Downs on +44-1274-233996 or contact the University of Bradford's Press Office. Emma Banks: +44-1274-233089; Oliver Tipper: +44-1274-233084; Email:, Fax: +44-1274-236280; for enquiries out of office hours, call +44-7879-437986.